Greater Vision and non-Christians listening to Southern Gospel?

One of the CDs I picked up at NQC was Gerald Wolfe’s Keys to Quiet Places piano solo CD, primarily since I wanted the Greater Vision titles that formed the rest of the package deal. At any rate, I found the disclaimer to have an interesting presupposition:

© 2006 Greater Vision Music Ministries, Inc., P.O. Box 1172, Morristown, TN 37816. All Rights Reserved. PLEASE READ: If a Christian knew it was illegal or “stealing” to copy this CD for someone who lives outside their household, they wouldn’t do it. Now you know. It is a violation of Federal Copyright Law to copy the music on this CD for anyone who doesn’t live in your house.

Notwithstanding the fact that that is one of the most creative copyright notices I’ve ever seen, the fact that it is specifically directed to Christians raises the question: What percentage of Southern Gospel fans generally, or Greater Vision’s fans specifically, are Christians?

Numerous groups–including Greater Vision–give altar calls at the end of their concerts. That suggests that Greater Vision assumes that at least a few of the people who purchase tickets to their concerts are not Christians.

I suppose this is a post that asks questions instead of answering them. Does anyone have statistics on what percentage of Southern Gospel fans are Christians? (Of course, that begs the question of how wide the definition of “Christian” can be, since some who have an unorthodox theology or are part of a cult have been known to enjoy Southern Gospel music.)

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37 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Now, we are getting serious about theology, definition of being a Christian as a follower of Christ in wider sense of the word or a relationship with Jeus Christ.
    I might not have statistics about people attending Southern Gospel music concerts who do not have a personal relationship wiyh Jesus Christ.
    Go to a concert early and have conversations with people in the audience.
    You should quickly be able to discern that some people come because “they enjoy the music” or it just another genre of music to them.
    Attending a concert does not mean that a person will give way to the moving of the Holy Spirit with or without a altar call.
    There are people out there that will exit the concert when they know the “preacher’ is coming to give a message of slavation during the middle of the concert. They come back at the end of the message. That’s the Holy Spirit working but we have to pray that they have not hardening their hearts so the Spirit cannot do its work.
    The bigger the audience, chances are that the people will come different background and cultures. Sometimes we have to let our legalistic mentality let go and let God through the Holy Spirit do His work.
    You do not have to go to a concert to see the Holy Spirit at work.
    I know somone who watches Gaither on television. The person says he like the music and you surely know what the focus is all about.
    It is not really all about being a Chistian but if you have true relationship with Jesus Christ based on John 3:16.
    There are some hard working Christians in our evangelical churches who need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
    I do not know who they are but only God is the Judge of their motives and inner desires of their hearts.

  2. Okay, I guess you could say I’m of the Baptist cult. [grin]
    Perhaps Greater Vision addresses the comment to Christians, assuming that the unconverted would copy the CD anyway with no conscience in the matter.

    I go to many concerts and find that at outdoor concerts especially, there seem to be quite a few who come just because they like the music. In conversation I usually get around to “what church do you attend?” The answer often is “well I used to go to so-and-so church, but I haven’t been in awhile.”

    So, yes, even though the audience may be predominately Christian, there are often those who really need to hear the message of the songs. And as far as I’m concerned, a simple invitation would be welcome at nearly any gospel concert.

  3. Oh, one more thing — depending on how wide your definition of Christian is, another question you might ask is: What percentage of the singers are Christian.
    [big ole grin]

  4. “a simple invitation would be welcome at nearly any gospel concert” would make a good topic on a separate thread as I could argue both side of that issue.
    Same goes with a subject being “preaching a message” during a ticketed concert.

  5. I don’t know about anyone else, but I try to invite my (non-Christian) coworkers and friends to the concerts I attend. I would like to think that others do the same. What a great way to introduce them to the gospel. Plus, it can always open the door for discussions later on.

  6. This surely sheds more light on Wolfe’s comments in the most recent Singing News regarding this notion of “stealing” music from CDs.

  7. Here’s my view on copyright laws. What is the spirit of the law? The spirit of the law is to prevent sales declines to the artists. Right? In my humble opinion (yes, I’m a Christian) if I give a copy of an SG cd to a friend who will most likely never buy an SG cd in his life that is not preventing sales at all. In fact, if he likes what he hears he’ll buy hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars more of music he’d never even contribute to. That’s my take.

    • Actually, the law was originally designed to protect the writers, publishers, and owners of the Masters. The spirit of the law is clearly explained in its wording.

      BTW… if you feel lead to give a Gospel CD to a friend, who would otherwise not purchase it, buy it for them. It’s best to not use stolen merchandise as a witnessing tool.

  8. Oh yeah… “Hymns of the Ages” has a similar disclaimer on the back!

  9. While I do see the intended purpose behind the disclaimer, what about an individual who may come to Christ through His message delivered through song… the words to which a writer was given with God’s annointing. Do the words and melody belong to the true Author? or the one who transcribed it? Just something to consider. Thanks!

    • Short answer… yes! Just as the words in a Scofield Reference Edition King James Bible were inspired by God. However, check your Scofield and you’ll discover there’s a copyright notice, which prohibits copying the commentary written by Dr. Scofield, without the “express, written permission of the publisher”.

      The real question is… if you wanted to give a Bible to a lost person, would you walk into a Christian Book Store and simply carry one out without purchasing it? Probably not.

      BTW… it’s VERY difficult, yet not impossible, to copy an entire Bible, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing it, in order to share the Gospel with someone.

      • Great point!

        And wow, you went back to the archives to find this one! This post is four years old! 🙂

  10. Jerry,

    If you are concerned about your friend, AND you want to obey the law, then do what I do. BUY enough copies of the CD to give some away.
    That way…you bless everyone AND obey the law. Last I checked, christians and non-christians alike are suppose to obey the law.

  11. The gospelHog is right. Christians too often try to justify stealing by saying they’re helping to “share the Gospel”. The problem with that viewpoint is it simply isn’t supported by scripture. However, “Thou shalt not steal”, is self-explanatory and to the point. Whether or not the recipient would or would not have otherwise purchased the stolen item for themselves is irrelevant.

    • I understand Gerald’s perspective when it comes to brand-new music.

      However, I think that when it comes to little-known, long out-of-print music that nobody has ever heard of, the artists would not want the music to die. They would be pathetically grateful to hear that somebody, somewhere, is actually LISTENING to that music. Therefore, I don’t see a problem with sharing mp3s of music that falls into that category. It’s good to keep good music alive.

      • It’s good to keep good music alive – through legal means. It’s not good to break the law to keep good music alive!

      • I was coming at it from the perspective of what the artists would want.

      • The artists aren’t the only copyright-holders in the equation – songwriters, song publishers, and record labels also have copyrights in play.

      • Now, if you asked my opinion, I would tell you that, quite frankly, some provisions of our current copyright law in the US are absurd – starting with the biggest, life plus 75 years. (!)

        That said, as Christians, we are required to obey the laws of our land, even when they are absurd, unless obeying them would force us to violate a higher Scriptural imperative.

        And, needless to say, there is no higher Scriptural imperative we violate by following the laws of our land in the area of copyright.

      • True. But if the record is impossible to find anywhere, they won’t be making anything anyway. (Hm. That was a lot of “anys.” :-P)

      • I know what you mean, but you’ll see we cross-posted. The crux of my case is in the post immediately preceding yours.

        I wish copyright laws offered exemptions for out-of-print music, but they don’t.

      • I see your post now.

        Another thing I would say is that I would view sharing a single mp3 or two with someone as an acceptable means of getting someone to buy the whole album. But obviously it would be wrong to rip an entire CD and give it to them. If you just want someone to have a CD, buy another copy.

      • I would agree with you if my conscience and the law permitted me to do so. 🙂

      • Let’s be thankful Mark Twain didn’t get his way. He wanted copyright to be eternal, for all practical purposes, and considered the expiration to be robbing the creator’s descendants.

        Maybe I could get the copyright laws changed to “5-10 years after the item is no longer available new.” Anyone want to sign my petition?

      • Sure. May as well make it ten. That’s a bit closer to what copyright (in our country) originally was.

        You’d run into the Walt Disney lawyers, though.

      • It would be a little more motivation for Gold City to release digital versions of some of those early releases, anyway.

        See, in my plan the creator could continue publishing and making money as long as the product was worth anything. Ten years of inactivity is reasonable. But the work would never have to die …. I like it. I wonder if I know any good lobbyists – Don’t think so.

        I read an article a few years ago about how some of the early rockers were still alive and were going to lose the copyright to their younger works because of the copyright laws during that time. My proposal obviates some of that. I’m not sure, though, how it applies to re-recording songs from songwriters. 🙁 It may need some more thought there. 😉

      • I think it’s sad that the creators often have very little control over their own distribution. We asked about obtaining an old project from one artist, and all they were able to give us was a CD made from an old record with skips in it. That was literally all that they had. They’d love to give us something HQ if they could, but they don’t have the rights.

        I’d like to see more of the distribution rights put directly in the hands of the artists.

      • Say, it could be a whole lot simpler and easier. What if we just go back to what our founders intended, had in mind, and in point of fact enacted as the first copyright law under the U.S. Constitution?

        Copyright would last for fourteen years from date of publication, and if the author’s still alive at the end of those fourteen years, it could be renewed for another fourteen.

        Twenty-eight years isn’t too bad, on the scope of things.

  12. what about Christians “saving seats”?

  13. I don’t believe seats can be saved. Seats don’t have souls.

    • Shoes do though.

      • Then, by all means, witness to the lost soles!

      • ROTFLOL!!! Honestly, you guys ought to have your own blog. 😀

      • Oh, this comment from 8 months ago, and Gerald’s response has inspired another parody. “Just one more Sole”.

        ‘Cause if just one more sole / Were to walk down the aisle. 😀 I might just have to write that one someday. 😀

      • Copyright 2011 quartet-man music. 🙂

  14. Back to the original point, are there non-Christian fans of Southern Gospel out there.

    Simply put, yes.

    Case in point, a listener on my radio station had turned me on to a few artists I had never heard before, and we started playing their music on the air.

    A few weeks later, this same listener was tuned into the station and participating in our listener chat room when she made the decision to give her life to Christ.

    • That’s an awesome testimony to the power of the Gospel!